Things That Matter

Basically Everybody Who Isn’t A Billionaire Is Coming For Bill Gates Since He Said He Couldn’t Live Off Of $7 Billion

The wealth gap between the world’s wealthy and, well, the rest of us has been amplified in recent years and particularly here in the United States. As the 2020 election nears, candidates across the political spectrum are ramping up their arguments and plans on how to combat income inequality.

In the US, the top 1% of Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 90%. This is an immense problem for America’s middle-class and is contributing the growing Social Democrat movement sweeping the country. Many candidates are releasing their plans and few have received more attention than Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In the interview, it’s what he didn’t say that spoke volumes.

Credit: Nicholas Kamm / Getty

Bill Gates, the second-wealthiest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $107 billion, declined to say Wednesday whether he’d vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president, given her proposed plan to tax billionaires at a rate of 6 percent.

And after a glib comment that he’d have to “do a little math” about what his net worth would be in a world post-Warren, the under-45 crowd had a few choice words for the 64-year-old Microsoft co-founder.

And the consensus is basically this: ‘OK, Boomer.’

Twitter did what Twitter does best and came hard for the Microsoft founder.

“I’m not Bill Gates, so his math is probably better than mine, but he’s worth 106 billion dollars, so if you took away 100 billion, it seems like that would leave him with SIX FUCKING BILLION DOLLARS,” Carter Bays, the producer and screenwriter, tweeted.

Another user tweeted it out just how insanely wealthy Bill Gates would still be even if Warren taxed him by more than $100 billion.

I mean, just let that settle in. Like should anyone really be this wealthy? Twitter doesn’t seem to think so. Others laid the blame with the media who have largely let Bill Gates lead his wealthy life without holding him accountable.

The responses — some earnest, some dripping in irony — highlighted the cultural rift between the baby boomer generation and its younger counterparts. 

And if there is a culture war, the phrase “ok boomer” has become its de facto rallying cry, a way to dismiss the more conservative politics that older generations represent.

Politics like, for example, not taxing the ultra-wealthy to fund social services.

“If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine,” Gates said on Wednesday during a financial conference hosted by the New York Times. “But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”

He also declined to say who he’d cast his vote for given the choice between Trump and Warren. “I hope the more professional candidate is the electable candidate,” he said.

To be clear, Warren’s proposal would not tax Gates’ wealth at a rate of over 90 percent, as Gates suggested.

It would be six percent for people worth more than $1 billion. Warren has said the revenue from that tax would fund healthcare for the entire country. Even Tom Steyer, the 62-year-old billionaire funding his own race for the presidency, weighed in.

“@BillGates, a wealth tax is the right thing to do,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “Don’t panic — you’ll be alright.”

But Gates is far from the only billionaire to bemoan Warren’s plan. Financier Leon Cooperman publicly sparred with Warren last week after writing in a letter that she treats wealthy people like “an ungrateful child.”

“Warren’s tax could cut roughly in half the fortunes of the very wealthy over its first 10 years. The aggressiveness of her plan should not be understated,” Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, tweeted this week. 

He later told Vox in an interview: “No group of Americans should be treated as a tool to raise the welfare of the rest of society.”

But for all those worried billionaires, don’t worry. The Warren campaign has released this handy calculator to show just how much they may have to pay.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign just rolled out a handy wealth tax calculator for any billionaires worried about what they’d have to pay under her proposed tax plan. 

The Massachusetts senator, who’s polling neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said she’d double her proposed wealth tax on billionaires from 3% to 6% to fund her progressive health care, climate, child care, and student loan proposals.

Under the plan, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would pay $4.249 billion. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who happens to be the richest man in the world, would pay $6.697 billion. And Bill Gates, who declined to say whether he’d vote for Warren earlier this week, would pay $6.379 billion if her plan goes into effect.

“Don’t worry too much about Bill Gates — if history is any guide, if billionaires do nothing other than invest their wealth in the stock market, it’s likely that their wealth will continue to grow,” Warren’s website reads.

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